Sunday, June 19, 2011

Brooklyn Gumbo

My husband's ancestors are Eartern European Jewish and I'm mostly Irish Catholic... a Briget loves Bernie thing, if you remember that old TV show. Because Mom has been digging deep into my side of the family tree, when I got interested in genealogy just last year the idea popped into my head that I'd work first on his side of the family.

Mostly, his ancestors came to the US in the last decades of the 1800s whereas a number of my ancestors had been here since before the American Revolution. I thought I'd tackle his clan first. Hey, how hard could that be?

I found out that Jewish genealogy can be most perplexing, even to the experienced researcher who was raised in the tradition. It taught me infinite patience, focus, thoroughness and how to ask for help and from who. In short, I followed his paternal GGF back to the Baltic states but lost the trail in a remote villige in Lithuania. Perhaps some day I'll pick up that thread again.

The truly amazing thing is that he and I have a sort of cross-over in our family history... in Brooklyn! Who'da thunk it: Brooklyn of all places! Brooklyn in da house!

His grandfather immigrated before 1888 to the lower East Side of Manhattan. After 1920 he moved to Brooklyn where he resided the rest of his upwardly-mobile life. His children were doctors, lawyers, and businessmen. He'd be so very proud of his legacy today.

My 5th GGF came to Brooklyn a bit earlier, in the first part of the 1700s, when it was still owned by the Dutch and called New Netherlands. Dirck Jans Woertman immigrated about 1647. It has been written that he "owned property in Brooklyn and operated the Brooklyn Ferry." So our Brooklyn heritage crosses, sort of.

As the commercial says: you just never know if you don't look. Oh, I have to look!

Samuel and Emma celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 1949.

Funny story about this photo. When I began my search for my husband's ancestors I emailed two of his cousins who were very helpful. Cousin Leon gave me the text of Samuel and Emma's wedding invitation. I Googled the address where Emma resided when she got married and was delighted to find that it is now the Tentament Museum. I emaild Leon right away. He contacted them and now their wedding invitation and this photo are in the permanent collection!

See more info on Samuel and Emma at the Tentament Museum's web site:

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